What’s in a ~500 page contract between the Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside and CRG for a private company to provide detained persons and officers healthcare and medical services?

What’s in a ~500 page contract between the Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside and CRG for a private company to provide detained persons and officers healthcare and medical services?

What’s in a ~500 page contract between the Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside and CRG for a private company to provide detained persons and officers healthcare and medical services?

                                

I have a big red box file in my office.

What’s in the box you may ask?

Here’s a sample.

letter Police Crime Commissioner for Merseyside citizen audit 2015-16 page 1 of 2
letter Police Crime Commissioner for Merseyside citizen audit 2015-16 page 1 of 2
letter Police Crime Commissioner for Merseyside citizen audit 2015-16 page 2 of 2
letter Police Crime Commissioner for Merseyside citizen audit 2015-16 page 2 of 2

Well it’s the result of my citizen audit of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside for the financial year 2015-16.

Just to show how long I’ve been a journalist for, you will find on this blog reports of public meetings of the Merseyside Police Authority. A few years ago the coalition government abolished the Merseyside Police Authority and replaced it with the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside.

In the box are copies of 49 invoices and details of 10 contracts.

The largest contract at ~500 pages is a contract between the Police and Crime Commissioner and Castlerock Recruitment Group LTD t/a CRG for the “Provision of Forensic Medical and Healthcare Services for the period, 21st January 2015 – 20th January 2017 with an option to extend by a further 2 years.“ which is reference PCCM / PD / 026 – Bluelight ref. 9KBD-BXVLMV .

This is perhaps the most interesting document although like many of the documents is redacted in part.

There’s also a service level agreement with Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council and a secondment agreement with Liverpool City Council.

Some of the redactions were later challenged by myself and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner agreed with me that they didn’t have a legal basis to do so and released further information.

It is somewhat strange however that myself a journalist seems to have a better knowledge (from a legal perspective) over what can be redacted than the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner. However I shouldn’t be too harsh on the OPCC for Merseyside as legal advice is a matter contracted under a SLA out to Knowsley Council (but don’t get me started on Knowsley Council and flawed legal advice!)

However the public sector as a whole has a tendency to for want of an expression take the mickey with me over redactions.

Although thankfully I rarely have to involve the judiciary in such matters.

Anyway going back to the large contract, due to its size from a time element it would take some considerable time to scan in, resize, compress and publish on the blog.

Those of a more political bent, may point out that in the public sector paying a private company for medical and healthcare services, that this falls into the political arguments over whether public services should be provided by the public sector. If provided by the private sector, ultimately less is spent on the service as a proportion ends up in profit (and presumably a different amount in taxes). For example 20% of all the money spent on CRG goes on VAT.

However, from CRG‘s last published accounts for 2015-16, they have a turnover of £34.3 million with a gross profit of 23.1%.

So out of £100 spent by the public sector with CRG, I estimate £16.69 will go on VAT, £23.10 on profit, leaving ~£60 out of every £100 on providing a service.

The contract is signed by Jane Kennedy (the Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside) and Laura Hale (a director of Castlerock Recruitment Group Limited).

Moving on to the Pre-Qualification Questionnaire it states that it’s for the provision of forensic and healthcare services (excluding SARCS).

SARC refers to Sexual Assault Referral Centre.

It explains that police forces and NHS Local Area Teams are working towards the transfer of commissioning responsibility for healthcare in police custody from the Home Office to the Department of Health and that the work of these Police/NHS Partnerships sits within the National Police Transition Programme.

If this happens during the life of the contract it is anticipated that the commissioning authority changes from Merseyside Police to the NHS England Lancashire Area Team and the contract will be novated.

However police forces and the NHS share contract governance, even after this change. This is done through the Strategic Healthcare Joint Partnership Board, at the time chaired by Chief Superintendant Carl Krueger, with representatives from NHS England Lancashire Area Team and NHS England (Merseyside).

PCC in the contract refers to the Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside.

The background explains that Merseyside Police was formed in 1974, serves a population of ~1.5 million people, covering an area of 647 sq km and five Metropolitan Borough Areas (Liverpool, Sefton, Knowsley, St Helens and Wirral).

It then describes the BCUs (Basic Command Units) in operation at the time, which was one for each borough except Liverpool split into two.

The contract refers to the three universities, two premiership football teams (Tranmere Rovers doesn’t get a mention or maybe its fans are better behaved), a rugby league team and two major racecourses. It states that in 2013, Liverpool received 57 million visitors to the region (referring to tourism). At the time of writing Merseyside Police employed over 6,000 people (*although technically police officers aren’t employees but officers of the Crown) ranging from police officers, PCSOs, support staff, Special Constabulary Officers and volunteers).

The custody suites are listed as follows (five in total) with 131 cells. There are also two mothballed custody suites which can be opened for pre-planned events and operations (which is an extra 32 cells).

Here is the list in the following format
location – BCU – Cells – Current operation

St Anne Street – Liverpool – 33 – 24/7
Wavertree – Liverpool – 20 – 24/7
Copy Lane – Sefton – 24 – 24/7
Wirral – 32 – 24/7
St Helens – 22 – 24/7 (Mothballing or reduced opening hours are currently being considered for this suite)
Southport – 12 – Mothballed
Belle Vale – South Liverpool – Mothballed

The contract states that services at the time of the contract award were provided by Medacs Healthcare (contact details Helen Kelly (Director of Managed Healthcare)) and that staff employed by Medacs may need to be TUPEd over to the new provider.

There is a list of how many detainees there are for each month from April 2013-14, how many calls there were for a healthcare professional, along with a percentage of HCP calls vs No of detainees.

The total number of detainees varies from 3,510 in April to 3,927 in July. The number of HCP calls varies from 1,698 in March to 2,217 in July. The percentage varies from 46.3% in March to 56.5% in July.

There is then a table for December 2013 of various categories of call out, split by custody suite location with totals.

For example one of the categories, category 6 is Death (All) of which there were 4 in December 2013. This is 4 out of a total of 2,011 calls for a healthcare professional.

The six major categories (all with totals over 100 call outs in that month across Merseyside) in order of calls were:

Injuries (All) – inc Officer Injury,
Fitness to – Detain, Interview, Release, Court, Travel etc,
Medication Administer / Review,
Drink / Drug Withdrawl,
Reassessment / Mental Health Reassessment,
Detainee’s Request / Complaint against police

There were also 27 listed as Taser Removal / self harm / suicide risk.

Below are the first pages of the contract that I’m referring to. Are people interested in the rest or is police officer healthcare and detained persons’ healthcare an issue you assumed was provided by the NHS?

Just to be clear, these pages are published relating to rights in the Re-Use of Public Sector Information Regulations 2015, Accounts and Audit Regulations 2015, Data Protection Act 1998 and Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014.

contract Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside and Castlerock Recruitment Group LTD t a CRG 1
contract Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside and Castlerock Recruitment Group LTD t a CRG 1
contract Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside and Castlerock Recruitment Group LTD t a CRG 2
contract Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside and Castlerock Recruitment Group LTD t a CRG 2
contract Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside and Castlerock Recruitment Group LTD t a CRG 3
contract Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside and Castlerock Recruitment Group LTD t a CRG 3
contract Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside and Castlerock Recruitment Group LTD t a CRG 4
contract Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside and Castlerock Recruitment Group LTD t a CRG 4
contract Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside and Castlerock Recruitment Group LTD t a CRG 5
contract Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside and Castlerock Recruitment Group LTD t a CRG 5
contract Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside and Castlerock Recruitment Group LTD t a CRG 6
contract Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside and Castlerock Recruitment Group LTD t a CRG 6
contract Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside and Castlerock Recruitment Group LTD t a CRG 7
contract Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside and Castlerock Recruitment Group LTD t a CRG 7
contract Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside and Castlerock Recruitment Group LTD t a CRG 8
contract Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside and Castlerock Recruitment Group LTD t a CRG 8
contract Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside and Castlerock Recruitment Group LTD t a CRG 9
contract Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside and Castlerock Recruitment Group LTD t a CRG 9
contract Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside and Castlerock Recruitment Group LTD t a CRG 10
contract Police and Crime Commissioner for Merseyside and Castlerock Recruitment Group LTD t a CRG 10

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BBC launches consultation on collaboration with hyperlocal blogs but do bloggers know there's a consultation?

BBC launches consultation on collaboration with hyperlocal blogs but do bloggers know there’s a consultation?

BBC launches consultation on collaboration with hyperlocal blogs but do bloggers know there’s a consultation?

                                                             

Liverpool City Region Combined Authority meeting 19th June 2015
Liverpool City Region Combined Authority meeting 19th June 2015

I’ll start by declaring an interest in this piece as I write for and run this blog. Earlier this week I got an email from a well-known journalist about a consultation the BBC is running. More information on this is on the BBC’s website.

Personally I’m not sure what to make of it. I don’t have the benefit of working for a media organisation like the BBC that is funded by taxes so gets a guaranteed income. Tomorrow I’ll be filming a public meeting of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.

At the previous meeting (19th June 2015) there were three filming the meeting itself:

a) myself
b) Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council and
c) the BBC for the Sunday Politics show.

However out of those three the footage I took was available to the public first. However I am getting off the point a little. The BBC just used clips of the meeting with a voice over during its Sunday Politics show.

Below is my footage on Youtube (which can be viewed in resolutions to 1080p HD). It has at the time of writing 19 views.

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In comparison here is the footage on Youtube filmed by Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council (at the start of each meeting the Chair generally announces they’re filming and the meeting can be watched on their Youtube channel). It can be watched in resolutions up to 480p. As you can see when they uploaded it to Youtube it’s resulted in a blank black area right, left and top. Generally my view is that if there’s a natural source of light in the room you should try to film with the light behind the camera (this was what the BBC cameraman was trying to do at the start too). Some of the time they film pointing at the windows. However at the time of writing they have 28 views.

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Now I’m definitely biased but I think my footage is better (but not as good as the BBC’s (unfortunately I don’t have a link of their video footage to hand to show)).

It’s very hard for me to fairly compete though with Knowsley, who have a Twitter account with 8,842 followers compared to my Twitter account with 970 followers.

I do see competition in the media as a good thing though. If people want to watch footage of this public meeting they have a choice.

That’s why I don’t fully understand what the BBC is proposing. We’re all competing with each other, which means over time we learn from each other and get better. Providing people with a choice is good. It’s how the marketplace and media works.

Collaboration between competing bodies could work to reduce that choice in the long-term if two or more previous competitors collaborate.

Links from the BBC’s website to a hyperlocal blog (through this proposed external linking system) would cause a spike in traffic to the hyperlocal blog as links from the BBC’s website carry a lot of weight.

However hyperlocal blogs who weren’t collaborating with the BBC would lose out on this source of visitors.

What’s really needed is not what the BBC propose. A lot of hyperlocal blogs have filled a media void once occupied by the newspapers. Newspapers get a guaranteed income from the taxpayer through things like public notices as the legislation specifically refers to public notices being published in local newspapers.

Considering the community benefit of hyperlocal blogs what’s really needed is a decent discussion about their long-term sustainability and how essentially their community benefit is priceless. They’re doing media work that otherwise wouldn’t happen. Hyperlocal blogs (including this one) have written stories that lead to front page news stories in newspapers, have highlighted extremely important issues and contributed to greater scrutiny of public bodies.

Apart from the first of these issues, the two latter have a “community benefit” can’t be easily measured or quantified. Anyway going back to the BBC consultation I was asked a further few questions so I thought I’d do a poll here (or you can leave a comment).

http://johnbrace.polldaddy.com/s/bbc-consultation-on-blogs

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Expense claim forms for Councillor John Hale (Wirral Council) 2013 to 2014

Expense claim forms for Councillor John Hale (Wirral Council) 2013 to 2014

Expense claim forms for Councillor John Hale (Wirral Council) 2013 to 2014

                                                   

Carrying on with the series of councillor’s expense claim forms we get to councillors whose surnames begin with H and the first one of those is Councillor John Hale. Councillor John Hale is a Conservative Party councillor for the ward of Hoylake and Meols (that’s the name of one ward not two different wards). He’s been a councillor since 1975 and according to Wirral Council’s website apart from a few months in 1999 has been a councillor for nearly all that time.

He’s one of Wirral Council’s representatives on the Merseyside Police and Crime Panel who earlier this year banned filming at one of their meetings in Birkenhead Town Hall. The Merseyside Police and Crime Panel most recent meeting on September 4th 2014 could be filmed (however we weren’t at it). I will however point out that Councillor John Hale was a member of the Merseyside Police and Crime Panel but wasn’t present at the meeting of 24th April 2014 when that filming decision was made by Councillors Frank Prendergast (Everton, Liverpool City Council (Labour)), Peter Brennan (Old Swan, Liverpool City Council (Labour)), Doreen Kerrigan (Linacre, Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council (Labour)) and Moira McLaughlin (Rock Ferry, Metropolitan Borough of Wirral (Labour)).

However in a cunning move the “powers that be” (Knowsley is the host authority for the Merseyside Police and Crime Panel), made sure that future meetings of the Merseyside Police and Crime Panel are now held in Huyton (reason given was “cost grounds” at the public meeting I wasn’t allowed to film earlier this year) which when you consider this increases the costs of many councillors’ expenses claims travelling there, Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s staff travel costs etc it would seem to be a rather spurious claim as although Knowsley said they could get their own Council Chamber for “free”, it’ll still form part of the administrative costs I’m sure they’ll claim back from the Home Office.

It seems a common theme that the increased costs of doing things differently are never brought up in a public meeting (which let’s face it in many places are run for the convenience of officers and councillors not the “public” who often aren’t even there) just the supposed “savings”. After all Knowsley officers had a very long briefing (in private) with the four councillors before the meeting started and one can only guess (from what was during the public meeting that they wouldn’t allow to be filmed which is a decision that didn’t even make the official minutes) that the officers persuaded them to hold future public meetings where officers work (therefore Knowsley officers wouldn’t have to travel much to different bits of Merseyside but the many people on the Panel, whether independent members or councillors, Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner’s staff and everyone else going to this meeting would have to travel further) and not holding it at a more central place in Merseyside. I assume it’s Wirral Council paying these travel costs (for its councillors on the Panel) because nobody has ever told me whether these expenses are recharged back to Knowsley (as the host authority).

What however is interesting to note is that Knowsley Council received £53,000 in 2013/14 for the administration costs of the Merseyside Police and Crime Panel and £11,040 for those on it (which is up to £920 per panel member for expenses) from the Home Office.

Maybe Knowsley think the room hire cost for Birkenhead Town Hall is just too extortionate when you consider Knowsley are only receiving a paltry £53,000 from the Home Office!

However peering into the murk of Wirral Council councillor’s expense claims, it’s now unclear whether Councillor John Hale’s expense claim to Wirral Council for travelling to the Merseyside Police and Crime Panel are (or have been) recharged back to the host authority Knowsley or not. Certainly if Knowsley is getting “up to £920 per member for expenses” it would seem terribly unfair for Wirral residents to be footing the bill through both national and local taxes whilst Knowsley gets the money. It’s something I’ll have to ask Wirral Council’s auditor Grant Thornton about though as I’m unsure.

Its predecessor body (before the Police and Crime Commissioner elections in November 2012) the Merseyside Police Authority met in Liverpool City Centre. However from what I remember the new Police and Crime Commissioner Jane Kennedy as far as I know decided that the building the Merseyside Police Authority used to meet in wasn’t needed. Public meetings involving the Merseyside Police now happen in a variety of different locations.

Huyton, from a historical perspective is part of Lancashire and we both half wondered if this came about because in Birkenhead Town Hall (whilst waiting for the briefing to finish) we both said in earshot of a Knowsley Borough Council employee that if they had the Merseyside Police and Crime Panel as far away as Huyton that we probably wouldn’t be able to get to its public meetings.

This is just one aspect of his expenses claim though but if expenses aren’t currently being recharged back to Knowsley it may represent a small saving to Wirral Council if it was. It’s certainly a question I should ask of Wirral Council’s auditors.

Below are Councillor John Hale’s expense claim forms.

Cllr John Hale expenses claim 2013 2014 page 1
Cllr John Hale expenses claim 2013 2014 page 1
Cllr John Hale expenses claim 2013 2014 page 2
Cllr John Hale expenses claim 2013 2014 page 2
https://johnbrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/cllr-john-hale-expenses-claim-2013-2014-page-3.jpg
https://johnbrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/cllr-john-hale-expenses-claim-2013-2014-page-3.jpg
Cllr John Hale expenses claim 2013 2014 page 4
Cllr John Hale expenses claim 2013 2014 page 4
Cllr John Hale expenses claim 2013 2014 page 5
Cllr John Hale expenses claim 2013 2014 page 5

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Wirral Council loses court battles to overturn government’s £177 million allocation to Merseyside of European money

Wirral Council loses court battles to overturn government’s £177 million allocation to Merseyside of European money

Wirral Council loses court battles to overturn government’s £177 million allocation to Merseyside of European money

                                

Earlier this year, there was a hearing in the High Court where the local councils within the Sheffield City Region (Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, Doncaster Borough Council, Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, Sheffield City Council) and the Liverpool City Region (Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council, Liverpool City Council, Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council, St Helens Borough Council and Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council) challenged by way of judicial review decisions by the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills made last year involving how EU Structural Funds between 2014 to 2020 were divided up to different countries within the UK and for the same period how they were divided within the English regions.

To sum up the case briefly, the nine local councils asked the court to quash both decisions so that they could be reconsidered. The Liverpool City Region had been given €221.9 million (about £177 million) and the Sheffield City Region €203.4 million (about £162.3 million) over the 6 years. Comparing 2014 allocations to 2013 allocations and taking into account a 4.3% reserve of funds by the government, South Yorkshire was getting €23 million in 2014 compared to €20 million in 2013 with the Liverpool City Region getting €26 million in 2014 compared to €23 million in 2013.

Mr Jason Coppel QC for the various councils listed above only managed to convince Mr Justice Stewart (over a two-day hearing in January) that the Defendant had breached the public sector equality duty, specifically s. 149(1)(a) and s.149(1)(b) of the Equality Act 2010 c.15. The decisions weren’t quashed and the various councils appealed this decision to the Court of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal heard this case over two days on the 30th June and 1st July. In the appeal decision Dyson, Kay and Floyd LJJ concluded that “we are satisfied that the judge came to the right conclusions on all the main issues and essentially for the right reasons. This appeal is therefore dismissed” and “In our view, the judge was right to reject this domestic law challenge to the decisions”.

At this point you’re probably left wondering, how much did these two legal battles (neither of which resulted in the decisions being overturned) cost Wirral Council? Secondly, should public money be being used to challenge political decisions of ministers when there aren’t enough legal grounds to have those decisions overturned?

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4 councillors ban filming at Merseyside Police and Crime Panel public meeting but support police filming the public

4 councillors ban filming at Merseyside Police and Crime Panel public meeting but support police filming the public

4 councillors ban filming at Merseyside Police and Crime Panel public meeting but support police filming the public

                        

Police and Crime Panel meet at Birkenhead Town Hall 24th April 2014

Merseyside Police and Crime Panel (Birkenhead Town Hall) 24th April 2014 taken after the meeting had finished Left to Right Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council officer, Councillor Frank Prendergast (Vice-Chair) (Labour, Liverpool City Council), Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council officer, Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council officer, Joseph Edwards (Independent Co-opted Member) (Mr. Edwards wasn’t present from the start of the meeting but arrived late), Councillor Moira McLaughlin (Labour, Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council), Councillor Doreen Kerrigan (Labour, Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council), Councillor Peter Brennan (Labour, Liverpool City Council)

The meeting started with two announcements the Vice-Chair (Councillor Prendergast) wished to make. The first was he asked for the noisy tea urn at the back of the room to be switched off as he said he had hearing problems. The second announcement Councillor Frank Prendergast (Labour, Liverpool City Council) wanted to make was to say that a request was made to film the public meeting of the Merseyside Police and Crime Panel which he had turned down because “confidential” things may be said during the meeting. However he said the public were welcome to stay for the whole meeting.

At this point as the Chair said it was his decision, I asked if he was making that on behalf of the whole Merseyside Police and Crime Panel as their rules of procedure agreed by the Merseyside Police and Crime Panel last July stated that this decision was of the whole Panel:

“21.1 No audio or visual record of proceedings (or part of the proceedings) of a Panel, Sub-Committee or Working Group meeting may be taken without the express permission of the Panel, Sub-Committee or the Working Group concerned.”

He replied that he was. None of the other three Labour councillors present said anything at this point, nor was a vote taken. I asked the Chair at the close of the meeting to provide a quote as to why he’d been against the public meeting being filmed. He told me he was too busy to provide a quote as he had to leave (the meeting was held in Birkenhead) to go to Clatterbridge via Liverpool.

Although the Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014 which prevent bodies such as the Police and Crime Panel stopping filming of their public meetings have been laid before the House of Commons on the 3rd April 2014 by the Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP, due to Parliament breaking up for Easter a week later a resolution approving the Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014 hasn’t yet been passed by the House of Commons and House of Lords. So it doesn’t yet have the force of law.

However this is what Labour’s front bench spokesperson, Hilary Benn MP had to say when the issue was debated last year in the House of Commons:

“We will therefore support that change, and also the proposal that councils in England should allow the recording and videoing of council and committee meetings. In this day and age, big changes in technology make recording and videoing readily possible, and I cannot see the difference between sitting in a meeting, listening and writing down what is being said, or—for those who have shorthand—taking a verbatim record, and making one’s own recording.”

                                         
The Merseyside Police and Crime Panel is a joint committee of the councils on Merseyside. The new Labour chaired Liverpool City Region Authority also declined a request to film their first public meeting. The Liverpool City Region Authority’s constitution delegated such matters to the Chief Executive of Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council Sheena Ramsey. Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council is also the host authority for the Merseyside Police and Crime Panel.

Has the message from Labour’s front bench spokesperson Hilary Benn MP to “support the change” to “allow the recording and videoing of council and committee meetings” fallen on deaf ears? Do the four Labour councillors who made the decision to prevent filming yesterday (Councillor Frank Prendergast, Councillor Doreen Kerrigan, Councillor Peter Brennan and Councillor Moira McLaughlin (who is currently Labour’s candidate in Rock Ferry ward)) realise how strange it seems for their party’s national spokesperson to say one thing yet Labour councillors locally on Merseyside to do the complete opposite?

My comments on what happened are that currently the public (and press) already do have the right to film, blog and tweet at public meetings. This is granted to them by article 10 (freedom of expression) of the Human Rights Act 1998 c.42. It is unlawful for any public body to act in a way that is incompatible with article 10 (freedom of expression) due to section 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998. In an ironic twist the Merseyside Police and Crime panel during the meeting discussed the wearing of cameras in public by police officers and were supportive of it.

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